Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents weave a fulfilling and enriching life for their pets by educating them about lesser-known topics and helping them make the best decisions possible for their pets. She owns three dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard. Little Blue Penguin Breeding: Wait, these are babies! The Aquarium participates in a Species Survival Plan for our penguins.
Over the coming weeks we'll share behind-the-scenes pictures and details about what it takes to raise penguins chicks on Central Wharf. Given their small size we are often asked if the little blue penguins are babies. All of the little blue penguins on exhibit are full grown adults or juveniles. The little blue penguin is the smallest species of penguin and stand at about 10-12 inches tall and weigh 2-3 pounds. In fact, many visitor at the Aquarium ask if the little blues are babies. If the adults are that small, can you imagine how small the chicks are? When a little blue chick pips out of its shell it usually weighs between 30–40 grams, which is only about 1–1.5 ounces! This photo was taken shortly after this chick finished hatching and weighed less than 40 grams. In about a month’s time they can weigh as much as their parents.
These “big babies” are still covered with down and rely on their parents for food until it fledges. Once fledged, they have their first set of waterproof feathers; at this time they are ready to swim and get food on their own. Here are some photos of our little blue penguin chicks that were born behind the scenes. The little penguin has the plainest, least distinctive plumage of all the penguin species but may have been the first one to evolve from flying birds. Birders who learn more facts about these tiny members of the Spheniscidae bird family can better appreciate their uniqueness, even if these penguins don't show it in appearance. Scientific Name : Eudyptula minor Common Name : Little Penguin, Blue Penguin, Little Blue Penguin, Fairy Penguin, Korora Penguin, White-Flippered Penguin, Australian Penguin Lifespan : 5-7 years Size : 13-15 inches Weight : 3.2-3.4 pounds Wingspan : 11-14 inches Conservation Status : Least concern. These penguins may seem plain, but it is that plainness that helps them be identified more easily. Their upright posture, chunky build, pied plumage, and short tail immediately identify them as penguins, and by recognizing just a few key features, birders can feel confident when they have seen a little penguin. Genders are similar though males tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females. These penguins have countershaded plumage with slate blue-gray or blue-black coloration above and white or grayish-white underparts. The face may show a paler cheek patch, and the bill is black, thick, slightly hooked at the tip, and may show faintly paler on the underside. The white belly may be stained with dirt from these penguins' habit of hiding under bushes and nesting in borrows. The flippers are slightly darker and may show a thin white edge on each side, which can make the flippers look narrower. The eyes are gray-black or blue-gray, and the legs and feet range from pink to pinkish-white with gray soles and black talons. Juveniles look similar to adults but generally show more gray on the underparts and the upperparts may be slightly paler. The smallest of the penguin species has the loudest voice and biggest vocabulary, with a variety of brays, barks, croons, grunts, and beeps in their repertoire. Adults can be quite noisy, but chicks generally only use a high-pitched beeping call to attract attention and encourage more feeding. These penguins spend much of their time at sea during the day, and at night prefer rocky shores or scrub habitats, including forest edges near coastlines. They can be found on either sandy beaches or in areas of rocky scree, as long as there is sufficient low cover to help them feel safe and secure. Little penguins are found along the southern and southeastern coasts of Australia, as well as along coastal Tazmania and New Zealand. These birds do not migrate, but vagrant sightings are occasionally reported in South Africa and Chile, presumably after these birds may have been forced far from their range by storms. These penguins are often characterized as nocturnal, but in fact, they are active throughout the day at sea as they forage. Sightings are only common in twilight hours, however, as these penguins are very predictable when leaving and returning to their nesting sites and roosting areas, making late evening or nighttime sightings more frequent.
Little penguins are somewhat gregarious and are often seen in groups. As smaller birds, their dives are generally shallow, typically less than 60 feet deep, though dives up to 100 feet deep have been recorded. On land, these penguins are very wary of humans and predators and quickly run between spots of cover before resting. They can be aggressive with one another, however, and will engage in pushing and shoving contests as well as pecking at one another to establish dominance. Little penguins forage in groups, working together to have the greatest hunting success. Like all penguins they are piscivorous, and their diet includes fish, krill, squid, and crustaceans.
These are monogamous penguins that mate after courtship displays where the male points his bill toward the sky and shakes his flippers as he calls to attract a female's attention. The male also digs the underground burrow nest, lining it with leaves and similar debris. Nest openings are usually positioned under thick grass roots or otherwise under cover, and these birds will also nest in rock crevices, caves, or nesting boxes that are suitably dark and sheltered.